Mary Poppins @ Capitol Theatre 09.02

Posted September 7, 2011 in ,

National Tour Company of MARY POPPINS. ©Disney/CML. Photo by Joan Marcus.
I jumped at the prospect of reviewing a Broadway show because I haven't seen anything from the genre in quite some time—it's been several years. When I found out it was for Mary Poppins: The Musical, I was a little miffed, but like trooper, attended the show anyway.

I was a big fan of Disney as a child and have great recall of the film as an adult, and even have fond memories of the message it conveys. The stage adaptation is a true representation of the movie's intent, but not a direct translation from the original. With almost twice the running time, a stage adaptation by necessity needs more dance numbers, songs and plot finaglings. None of those changes were for ill, though. New songs—like "Brimstone and Treacle" a song from a terribly harsh nanny about the proper medicine for children (it's not a spoonful of sugar, contrary to popular opinion in British nanny circles) and "Anything Can Happen If You Let It," a wonderful, life-affirming number—fit perfectly well in the canon of Mary Poppins lore, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously so.

The actors are all vets of touring and Broadway companies, their dance routines impeccable, and very competent singers to boot. Mary Poppins (Steffanie Leigh) is the closest embodiment of Julie Andrews that one could hope to approximate and Bert (Nicolas Dromard) an improvement on the role popularized by Dick van Dyke. For one, Dromard is a far better singer and dancer. In fact, he steals the show with an inverted, up-the-wall tap routine during the infamous chimney sweep opus, "Step In Time"—something best seen to be believed and understood––Which brings up the stage work the show presents.

It's best to think of stage pieces and changes as organic and fluid creatures. Some stage crews can't pull it off and it turns out hokey, but the crew nailed it and so did the performers. For a second night performance in a new theater, the machine was surprisingly well oiled. Kudos to SLC's Capitol Theater and their staff for being the cohesive glue that helps the itinerant company work its magic on the receptive and over-awed crowd. If you like musicals, and if you're a Mary Poppins fan, there is no reason you shouldn't make it a point to see this excellent company work their kite-flying escapism on your eyes and ears before the run stops on September 25.
National Tour Company of MARY POPPINS.  ©Disney/CML.  Photo by Joan Marcus.